Graham Kavanagh ahead of the Notts County game
United manager Graham Kavanagh spoke to us ahead of the trip to Notts County at the weekend.
“I thought the whole team did a job last weekend,” he said. “The only thing we didn’t do was put the ball in the net. We created chances, and it was a very good performance, without having that real cutting edge.
“We’ve worked on that this week and we’ve tried to add a new dimension to the way we attack. We’ll see if we can carry that through on Saturday. We do look solid defensively at the moment so it’s now a case of turning the chances we created into goals. You would be concerned if you were keeping clean sheets but you weren’t creating anything at the other end. That isn’t the case. We’ll keep doing what we can to improve in all areas, so I’m hoping we can add more going forward.”
“Notts County are in a difficult situation at the moment but you sometimes come out fighting when that’s the case,” he told us. “I hope we start well, start fast and that we get the points we need. It’s a needs must situation and we need to go there with the same frame of mind as we had defensively last weekend. We then need to counter attack, again as we did, but this time with a little bit more quality.
“I think it will be a scrap. Their pitch is well used and there isn’t much grass on it. I don’t think it will be a pretty, free flowing game. It’ll be a proper League One match. We have to remember that teams in this position are scrapping for their lives and they’ll go right the way through until the 95th minute. We’ll need to concentrate because even though they are struggling they have players who are a real threat to any team in this division. The reports are telling us they have conceded at bad times in games and that has affected their performances and mind set.
“If we were to lose on Saturday then it wouldn’t be the end of our season in any way, shape or form. We’ll still have nine more games to pick up 27 points. If we do manage to get a win it will put some proper distance between us and Notts County. That would give us a lot of confidence for the run-in.”
And on meeting up with former-gaffer Greg Abbott again, he said: “I don’t see the fact that Greg is at Notts County as a distraction at all. He’s been different class through all the time I’ve worked with him. I still speak to him on the phone and I still bounce ideas off him.
“He’s been a manager a lot longer than I have and he’s seen more, in terms of signing players, than I have. You only really get up to speed with it all when you’re actually in the job. I’m looking forward to seeing him on the day, and I’m sure we’ll have a drink and a chat afterwards, but it certainly won’t be a distraction during the game. I purposely haven’t spoken to him for the last two weeks because we both understand what’s at stake. He’ll be looking for three points as much as we are.
“Shaun [Derry] is a good, young manager and he is very passionate about Notts County. Greg will lend a great deal of experience to him even though it just hasn’t quite worked for them this season. It’s the same situation as we had because you’re always playing catch up. You can win two or three games but you’re back in it again if you drop a couple of points. That can be demoralising because you don’t really get any respite from it. Confidence can start to get low and you suffer for it. With the players they have you would expect them to be challenging at the other end, but I wish them all the very best after the game on Saturday.”
“I’m not feeling particularly nervous about the situation at all, if I’m being honest,” he told us. “All we can do is take each day as it comes and make sure we’ve planned and prepared. We’ve had to adapt and readjust as we’ve picked up injuries and I think we’ve shown we can cope, particularly with the good performances we’ve had.
“If I start to show nervousness or pressure then I think that will feed itself into the group. The key is to make sure we are full of belief in the way we are doing things. We try to pass our energy across to the players and they’ve bought into it so far.
“We do forget that we have a lot of kids doing men’s jobs and I think people can forget that sometimes. There is pressure in the sense that none of us want to get relegated but they are handling it beyond their years. All credit to them and I’m sure, whatever happens, this will stand them in good stead for the future.”
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